…Would be garnacha. Garnacha is the most widely planted grape in Spain. It was a surprise for me to discover recently that it is Grenache that plays at least second fiddle in Rioja, Priorat and all the rosado you could possibly drink. Noble it may not be, but grenache, or garnacha is one of the most widely planted grapes worldwide, from la Mancha to Mclaren Vale.
Having recently eulogised about my new favourite red wines from Priorat in Catalonia (only twenty years after everyone else), I pulled out a bottle of 2010 Gigondas Les Racines from Domaine des Pallières on Saturday night. Boldly tannic, Gigondas is not just Grenache (low acid but high in alcohol), but regularly blended with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault) and famously takes quite a long time to come around.
Priorat wine’s are not just Grenache either, being regularly made up with Carignan and/ or Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which add tannin and acidity to the blend.
The Pallières was significantly more evolved than Palacios’ 2012 Les Terrasses, both in colour and taste. And by that I mean significantly more evolved that two vintages apart might expect.
A distinct garnet colour; it’s nose was of dry, brambly fruit, underbrush and garrigue with secondary flavours of red fruit compôte. It was also immediately striking in its alcohol. While I was surprised to find the Palacios was 14.5°, I was equally surprised to see the Gigondas was only 14.5°. Is it just the two year difference in age, or is there something else?
Both are from high vineyards in the Mediterranean south. What explaines Les Terrasses’ richer fruit, its greater voluptuous texture? It isn’t the altitude, greater altitude might (and Grattalops is signicantly lower) allow longer hang-time, so a longer, deeper maturity of fruit. Equally Mourvedre and Syrah should offer a deeper, blacker fruit character than spicy Carignan.
Maybe it’s the oak? I think it must be the oak. Palacios and his small French barriques…
By no means tiring, the Gigondas, with air, was more palatable but if I had to put it down to one difference, the Gigondas was showing distinctly rough edges, or the awkwardness of adolescence perhaps.
A few bottles left to experiment with, but I only hope that the fruit is retained and I am not left with bare skinny bones of alcohol and a dry, abrasive acidity. A voir, et à revoir.
As a reference point, this is what the sage from Monckton had to say,
“The soft, delicious 2010 Gigondas Les Racines is, surprisingly, more open-knit than I remember it from last year. Abundant notes of red and black currants, raspberries, garrigue, crushed rock and peppery spice are all present in this medium to full-bodied, elegant yet substantial, authoritative Gigondas. It should drink well for 12-15+ years.”